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New SRA Handbook

The New SRA Handbook

It seems like only yesterday that the 2007 Code of Conduct was introduced, and now the legal profession will face a new set of regulations, this time in the form of a new Handbook that will contain not only "Code of Conduct" type regulations, but also the Solicitors Accounts Rules.

The premise of the Handbook is that it will allow the SRA to carry out outcome focussed regulation. The main principles of the book are;

You must:

1. uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;

2. act with integrity;

3. not allow your independence to be compromised;

4. act in the best interests of each client;

5. provide a proper standard of service to your clients;

6. behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the

provision of legal services;

7. comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your

regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;

8.run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in

accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk

management principles;

9.run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that

encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity;

10. protect client money and assets.

Each principle is supported by a set of mandatory outcomes, which are in turn supported by "indicative behaviours." The consultation does indicate that outcomes may be achieved in a variety of ways, as long as they are achieved. What isn't clear is how the regulation of the outcomes will be undertaken, at a consultation event earlier this year the SRA indicated that audits would no longer be random but based on outcomes, the question is how do they know what the outcomes are? Will they be asking practices to provide them with data, or will they just use the Legal Ombudsman and their own records to show which firms may not be achieving outcomes? It is a question that needs an answer.

To ask this question and others you may have, view the consultation at;

www.sra.org.uk/consultations